The 'Petty Crap' of a Family Business
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The 'Petty Crap' of a Family Business

The 'Petty Crap' of a Family Business

When family members join the business the emotional landscape changes.  Even the closest and most balanced families can find themselves struggling with “petty crap” from what appears to be never-ending sources. If it’s not concerns over the ability, commitment, or development of family member employees, it could be the motivation and retention of insecure or frustrated key managers. 

If this kind of crap is becoming a major downer, finding the motivation to pursue succession becomes a function of reminding yourself why.

  • Why you took on the challenge of allowing family members to be employed
  • Why you care and thought about “seeking succession” rather than just selling out

Start by sitting down and writing out your purpose and vision for why you chose to be a franchise owner, operate a business, involve family members, and review your long-term succession goals. Be honest and articulate your goals and the reason why you are, or should be, willing to withstand a season of petty crap. If you don’t have a good reason or if there is little hope that your children could participate as a member of a succession team, rethink what you are doing. Keep in mind, not only is your suffering unnecessary, but you could also be eroding the value of your business. Recognizing this potential double negative may be justification for changing direction and relieving yourself of significant frustration and stress. Family members involved in the business are either succession assets or liabilities. Unfortunately, they are rarely neutral. Prolonged exposure to liabilities comes at a grievous price of both business value and family harmony.

To help maintain motivation, share your purpose with family members and employees involved in the business and ask for their feedback.  This process gives those creating challenges the opportunity to reconcile inappropriate behavior and express support for your goal. For family members who create challenges, sharing your purpose clearly communicates to them you are aware of their challenges and are potentially getting weary of their behavior.

If necessary, be sure to mention a reason for involving family and seeking succession is to avoid selling the business in the event of your death, disability, or retirement. Specifically, convey to problematic family members the plan could change and their security within the family business plan could be in jeopardy. Let key managers and employees who may be creating challenges know their cooperation and support of your succession initiative promotes their career security that wouldn’t exist if you sold the business.

Hopefully, through clearly identifying and communicating your driving purpose for the business, you will find clarity, direction, and encouragement to reaffirm that the “petty crap” you are enduring is potentially worth the long-term reward.

Loyd Rawls is the founder of The Rawls Group, a business succession planning firm. Loyd specializes in dealing with the issues that must be resolved by business owners to implement succession strategies geared towards building business value. For additional information, visit or call 407-578-4455.

Published: May 3rd, 2021

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